The Dynamics of Referendum Campaigns: An International Perspective

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Kriesi Turnout in Referendums; P. Neijens, P. Slot E-voting and Electoral Participation; A. Sciarini, N. Du kanske gillar. Permanent Record Edward Snowden Inbunden. For the Record David Cameron Inbunden. The referendum is no exception to the rule. The Yes-camp lost because they were unable to win the median voter and failed to target the swing-voters, and because they made a number of cardinal mistakes, such as uncritically relying on slogans that failed to capture the headlines or appeal to those who would have been positively disposed towards reform of the electoral system.

The defeat of the yes-campaign was in large measure the result of a failure to use communication strategies that money can buy. But there were other reasons for the defeat. The yes-camp — whether consciously or not — based their campaign on this tactic. It was assumed — though this was apparently not tested in focus groups [46] — that voters would react positively to celebrity endorsements. Thus Yes-to-fairer-votes enlisted the support of Oscar winning actor Colin Firth who informed the voters that the Oscars were decided by the Alternative Vote [47] and the public campaign was dominated by the comedian Eddie Izzard and the actor Richard Wilson of the aptly named television series One Foot in the Grave.

But the Yes-to-fairer-votes did not anticipate — and seemed unaware — that such endorsements have had negative effects elsewhere. The same was seemingly true for Britain. But there are other cues than those of celebrities. In referendums on European integration, for example, voters have often taken cues from party leaders [49]. This is also true for referendums elsewhere. Whether the same is generally the case in referendums on electoral change is a more difficult question to ask as the number of cases is significantly smaller.

EU referendum - guide to the In and Out campaigns

But based on the limited comparative evidence there are indications that this is not generally the case. Voters in referendums on electoral change at the national level have not tended to follow cues, but have seemingly departed from the party-line. The referendum, which was ostensibly indented as a vehicle for gaining momentum for his party did not help!

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Don't have access? A notable feature of the referendum was the All Wales Convention AWC touring the country to educate the public on the options available. Alan Renwick. This is a de facto form of approval voting —i. The Real Spiral of Cynicism? Discussions of referendums tend to vary in terminology and approach.

The same pattern much earlier was observed in the Republic of Ireland in , when Eamon de Valera decided to call a referendum on the introduction of the First-Past-the-Post Electoral system on the same day as he contested the presidency [51] , and in when Fienna Fail lost another referendum on the same issue, but won the election.

Further, in New Zealand and in there was very little correlation between party preferences and voting choice in the referendum in New Zealand — indeed the old parties won 83 percent of the votes in the General Election on the same day as they lost the referendum in the latter year [52]. Does Britain fit the pattern? The Conservative Party was the only political party to oppose the referendum. There is some indication that this was the case.

The Southeast duly rejected the introduction of AV by one of the highest margins. The same rejection was equally unequivocal in the Labour heartlands in the North.

The only thing that suggests that the voters did not take cues come from the South West, traditionally a heartland area for the Liberal Democrats. Here, in areas where one would, perhaps, have expected a stronger showing, an equally high number voted no See Table Six. Only in Scotland — where the SNP campaigned for AV and won a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament elections on the same day, was there an indication that voters did not take cues.

Needless to say, we cannot extrapolate from aggregate figures to individual preferences. To do so would be an ecological fallacy [53]. But the indications suggest that voters were taking cues from parties as suggested by Karp. The prominent constitutionalist — and advocate of referendums - A. It was seemingly not the case in the United Kingdom in The referendum in was a tough political battle. No quarter was given, and none was taken. The contrast to the only previous nationwide referendum was seemingly marked.

The referendum was, to be sure a bare knuckle fight. Most referendums are [58]. Yet the conclusion reached by Vince Cable is not entirely accurate, and while the campaign was undeniably tough and not a shining example of public spirit and deliberative democracy, it remains the case that erstwhile enemies from the Labour and the Conservative parties cooperated. The same conclusion could be drawn from the referendum. Referendums on electoral reform are extremely rare [62] , though contrary to the impressions, referendums are not generally unsuccessful.

Of the nineteen referendums on electoral reform since nine have been successful and ten have been unsuccessful, and of these five, or half of them, failed due to turnout requirements and not due to outright rejection by the voters.

The campaign showed many traits seen in other similar referendums. The evidence from the campaign suggests that the opponents of AV were able to set the agenda and convey the impression that they represented the median-voter. Like in Ireland in , the no-campaign did this by changing the agenda and the focus of the debate away from the issue and into a debate about unrelated issues such as the economy and the unpopular cuts in public spending.

The result was a massive defeat. Does this mean that electoral reform is a dead issue in British politics? Son prochain ouvrage s'intitule Balloting to Stop Bullets.

An International Perspective

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Good news for the future?


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